Bronx apartment fire started by space heater leaves 17 dead
A Bronx apartment fire has killed at least 17 people, including nine children, and left many others in critical condition.
Staff video, USA TODAY
NEW YORK – The youngest was 2 years old. The oldest, 50. Families lost multiple loved ones. Students lost classmates. Mothers and fathers lost children.
All 17, including eight children, died from smoke inhalation, according to the city’s medical examiner. Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said two self-closing doors – one at the unit where the fire started and the other at the 15th-floor stairwell – did not shut properly, allowing the smoke to spread.
The New York Police Department on Tuesday released the names of the 17 victims, including multiple members of the same families.
“This is a global tragedy,” Mayor Eric Adams said Monday at a news conference. “Everyone is feeling the pain of what we are experiencing.”
Community members mourned the victims at a candlelight vigil at the building Tuesday. Many of the victims worshipped at the nearby Masjid-Ur-Rahmah mosque, and some were of Gambian descent.
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The Dukuray family
Haji Dukuray, 49; Haja Dukuray, 37; and their three children, Mustapha, 12; Mariam, 11; and Fatoumata, 5, were killed in the blaze.
Hawa Dukuray, a relative, told The New York Times the family was very close.
Haji worked at a restaurant, and Haja was a home health aide, Hawa Dukuray told the newspaper. The children were bright students, and Mustapha received high grades in school, she said. Their parents immigrated from Gambia in 2007.
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The Drammeh family
Fatoumata Drammeh, 50, and her three children, Fatoumala, 21; Nyumaaisha “Aisha,” 19; and Muhammed, 12, were among the dead.
New York police provided a different spelling for Fatoumala’s name; however, a GoFundMe spelled it Fatoumala, and Ishak Drammeh, the children’s father, told the New York Post and the Times her name was Fatoumala.
Ishak Drammeh told the news outlets he was away for business in Ohio when the fire broke out.
“One day they are just gone, and you will never see them again,” he told the Post on Tuesday.
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Fatoumala was studying economics at the University at Buffalo and was set to graduate soon, Drammeh told the Times and the Post. Nyumaaisha worked at a hospital and was set to start college this year, he told the Post.
Fatima Drammeh, 23, who was not home when the fire started, told the Times the family had celebrated her brother Muhammed’s 12th birthday at a trampoline park.
“We were all just jumping around, racing, we were trying to race on the obstacle courses,” she told the newspaper. “It’s a sweet memory that I have.”
Hagi Jawara and Isatou Jabbie
Hagi Jawara, 47, and his wife, Isatou Jabbie, 31, died.
Jawara’s brother, Yusupha, told The Associated Press he rushed to the scene of the fire from his home nearby to help emergency medical workers. He noticed a man on a gurney that looked like his brother.
“I was just helping the EMS transport one person to the hospital when I saw him – somebody similar like him – on a stretcher being brought to the ER,” he told the news agency. “At that time, I didn’t have the focus to know that it was him.”
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He tried calling his brother and sister-in-law later in the day but never heard back. A GoFundMe said the couple left four children. The page spelled Hagi and Isatou’s names differently from how police spelled them. The spelling was also different from what Yusupha Jawara told The Associated Press.
Yusupha Jawara told the New York Post he was making funeral arrangements and trying to figure out how to break the news to his brother’s children.
“(Jabbie) loved her kids to death,” he said. “The kids were her life.”
At 2 years old, Ousmane Konteh was the youngest victim of the fire.
Fatoumata Tunkara and Omar Jambang
Fatoumata Tunkara, 43, was with her son Omar Jambang, 6, when the fire broke out.
Another son, Abdullaie Chan, 19, told the New York Daily News that his mother and brother were trapped on the 19th floor inside a friend’s apartment.
“I knew she was in that building, but I thought she got out in time,” Chan told the newspaper. “Calling her, calling her, more than 40 times. She didn’t pick up the phone. … I feel like she was not supposed to be there.”
Chan said he has three younger sisters he feels responsible for. A GoFundMe page, which said the family was from Gambia, tried to raise money to bring Tunkara and Omar’s bodies back home.
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Sera Janneh, 27, rushed to escape from her sixth floor apartment with her family, her sister Mareama told The New York Times.
Janneh collapsed, and another sister, Isatou, was hospitalized. A GoFundMe page said Isatou Janneh was intubated because of the smoke inhalation.
Mareama Janneh told the Times that Sera was a student at Lehman College in the Bronx, studying to become a social worker, and she was an active member of the Gambian Youth Organization.
Seydou Toure, 12, an eighth grader who died in the fire, was a student at Angelo Patri Middle School, next door to the apartment building, The New York Times reported.
His classmates walked across the street Tuesday to place a poster board with Seydou’s photo at the building, the Times reported.
“They wanted to do this, and for me, it’s all about what they want to do, how they want to express their emotions,” Angel Ortega, the school’s principal, told the newspaper.
Haouwa Mahamadou, 5, was killed in the fire.
Contributing: The Associated Press